Joker’s Wild II
Date: May 9, 2014
Location: National Indoor Arena, Birmingham, England
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Taz
These things are back again with another random tag partners competition. It’s the same format as the first in the series: take four random wrestlers and put them in a tag match, then have the winners go into a gauntlet battle royal. The winner gets a check for $100,000. I wouldn’t mind if they used money as a motivating factor in wrestling more often. Let’s get to it.
As usual, we open with a package of clips from the show we’re about to see.
Jeremy Borash and Christy Hemme explain the concept for the night. They also do the drawing for the first match, which they’ll be doing before every tag match tonight.
Gunner/Chris Sabin vs. British Invasion
It’s Magnus/Doug Williams, which should tell you a thing or two about how this show is going to go. This is one of Sabin’s final appearances as he’s gone from the company by the time this show airs. Doug and Sabin get things going with the Englishman taking him down by the arm. The announcers are already in their own little world as Williams hangs onto the arm even though a monkey flip. Sabin is sent to the floor for a chase and eats a European uppercut back inside.
Off to Gunner for some nice applause and one off a shoulder block. The tag brings in Magnus to a mixed reaction and the showdown with Gunner. Well it would be a showdown if this were on regular TNA TV and Magnus were still World Champion but there’s only so much for me to work with on this show. A headlock takes Gunner down to the mat but he fights back with a fall away slam for two.
Back to Sabin who gets caught in a double neckbreaker for two. The announcers are talking about tag team wrestling for a change. Granted it’s about Taz’s career but at least they’re getting closer than they were earlier when they talked about wrestling polar bears. A sunset flip from Douglas gets two on Gunner but it’s quickly back to Sabin. Chris chokes Douglas with a rope from his wrist to get some cheating in there but the fans cheer Douglas back to his feet.
Gunner comes in again but charges into a boot in the corner, allowing Williams to come off the middle rope with a European uppercut. Taz’s line during that sequence: “Calculus 202. That was my thing.” He’s talking about math, not the uppercut in case you’re looking for a double meaning or a metaphor there. Everything breaks down and Gunner puts Magnus in the Gun Rack but Sabin tags himself in and gets two on Magnus. Sabin accidentally hits his partner, setting up the snapmare into the top rope elbow from Magnus for the pin to advance.
Rating: C. This was your typical One Night Only match: the wrestling wasn’t bad but the lack of a strong story hurts it. It’s not bad or anything and there was a basic story of having an experienced team against a makeshift team but this was much more for the live crowd than the PPV audience.
The British Invasion both say they’ll win the gauntlet for the money later tonight. Magnus emphasizes that the reunion was indeed for one night only but there are no hard feelings.
Bad Influence says they’ll both carry their partners and then win the gauntlet. The Bro Mans come in and promise they’ll win but Bad Influence says the Bro Mans might not be together tonight. Robbie seems a little more aware of what’s going on tonight. This turns into a discussion of hair gel.
Robbie E./Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe/Bad Bones
By the powers, what a coincidence. And right after they were talking too! Bad Bones is the German wrestler that Joe beat up in like 90 seconds a few weeks back. He looks like a lot like A-Train if he was about six inches shorter and not covered with hair. Joe starts with Daniels as the announcers debate leader boards vs. a list of winners. Daniels doesn’t break clean in the corner but his forearms to the back have almost no effect at all. Joe runs him over and hammers away in the corner to set up the Facewash.
Daniels bails to the floor for a meeting with Robbie as the fans quiet down. Back in and E is tagged in before Joe tags him in the jaw with right hands. Off to Bones for a nice high collar suplex and two. Some running forearms and a running knee to the chest ala Daniel Bryan drop Daniels with ease. E tries to help his partner but Bones double clotheslines them down as well. Robbie trips Bones up from the floor and comes in legally to hammer away in the corner.
We hit the chinlock and the fans are already cheering for Bones. E misses a charge in the corner though and the hot tag brings in Joe to face Daniels. The big boot and backsplash get two on Christopher and it’s off to a cross armbreaker. Robbie makes the save but gets speared down by Bones. Joe Muscle Busts Daniels for the pin to advance.
Rating: C. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing that rating a lot tonight. There’s only so much to do in a quick match like this with a basic story of power vs. speed with four guys that have a limited history together. Not a bad match or anything but it was just ten minutes of four guys doing moves to each other with Joe and Bones not really breaking a sweat.
Gunner says the loss wasn’t his fault.
British Invasion says the same thing they said after their match.
Samuel Shaw says he only trusts himself.
We do another draw and there are about twenty fewer pieces of paper in the tumbler.
Rockstar Spud/Bully Ray vs. Mr. Anderson/Austin Aries
This has potential. Spud says he’ll be team captain no matter who his partner is and then Bully is announced for a funny moment. Ray and Spud stare each other down. That goes badly for Spud so he gets a chair to stand on. He talks about being chief of staff…..before quickly agreeing that Ray is captain tonight. The fans chant for Aries but switch to WE WANT SPUD. They get what they ask for but the tag hurts Spud’s hand.
Aries easily takes him down so Bully gives him a huge pep talk and starts a SPUD chant. The Rockstar gets in Aries’ face and slaps him, only to be dropped by a left hand. Ray offers another tag but Spud is scared of the pain so it’s another pep talk. This time Aries takes him down with a clothesline and it’s off to Anderson to take over in the corner. All four get in and Spud starts to dance. Ray walks to the corner and facepalms, allowing Aries and Anderson to double team Spud.
Bully realizes he’s doing this on his own and Spud gets knocked down again. Ray yells at him and gets elbowed in the back of the head by Aries, knocking him face first into….uh….a certain place on Spud. This just makes Ray even angrier so he breaks out of a Mic Check and kicks Anderson in the face. Spud does Ray’s pose so Ray pulls him to the corner by the ear and hits a big elbow drop for two on Anderson. Ray to Hebner: “You know what? You count too slow!”
He yells at Hebner in the corner but Earl gets right in Ray’s face to take him into the other corner. Now it’s back to Spud. Taz: “WHY???” Spud drops the same elbow for two and gets in Hebner’s face so Earl slams him down to give Aries a two count. Anderson hits the neckbreaker on the now legal Bully and it’s off to Aries who dropkicks Ray to the floor. A dropkick from the top to the floor and a regular missile dropkick get two for Aries but Ray slams him down and tells Spud to go up top.
Ray: “WHAT’S UP???” Spud: “I’M UP!” The headbutt connects but Ray knocks Spud down when he slaps him in the chest before GET THE TABLES. Spud falls down trying to pull the table out and Ray is disgusted. “GET THE TABLE IN ALREADY!” Anderson comes over and puts his arm around Ray as Spud is still dealing with the table.
Aries is about to go up for What’s Up but Hebner won’t let him. Spud tries a sneak attack on Anderson but is thrown into Ray’s crotch for his efforts. Ray: “YOU SOB!” The fans rightfully think this is awesome and there’s the running corner dropkick from Aries. He loads up the brainbuster but Spud rolls Aries up and pulls the trunks halfway off for the pin. The look of shock on Ray’s face is priceless.
Rating: A+. This was the funniest match I’ve seen in years and maybe even ever. They kept the joke going the entire time and had a WAY more entertaining match than they would have had if they played it straight. This is something WWE needs to learn from. Rather than just having a guy be designated as a comedy guy and having him do strange things while the commentators tell you it’s funny, this was four guys who can be funny BEING FUNNY.
Instead of just doing the same bits over and over again (like Young stripping or the Cobra), they did different stuff that we hadn’t seen before and had a very funny match as a result. Comedy can be done, but let these funny people come up with it themselves rather than having them perform something a writer came up with. If they were good enough actors/performers to do what a writer came up with, they would be in Hollywood making way more money.
This was a blast and a good lesson in how to do comedy wrestling. The tagline One Night Only applies here too: if they did this every week on TV it would stop being anywhere near as funny in like the third week. Do it every now and then instead of the same bits every week and it’ll work far better.
The following two matches are listed in different orders on various sites. This is the order they aired in on the version I have and I don’t think it makes any real difference.
Wolves vs. Beer Money
Eh sometimes it’s better to screw believability and just let two awesome teams have a match. Roode vs. Richards to get things going with a nice technical wrestling sequence. Bobby gets the better of it and cranks on a headlock but Edwards gets a blind tag and dropkicks Roode in the side of the head for two. Off to Storm who gets dropkicked down, allowing the Wolves to take over on the arm. Storm hadn’t turned heel when this was taped so the fans are way into him.
Back to Roode who gets headbutted into the corner and then forearmed in the face by Richards. Storm gets caught in the same corner and kicked down, giving us the gay sex position spot. Back up and Storm kicks the heck out of Richards from the apron and Beer Money takes over. A double back elbow gets two on Davey and we hit a chinlock with Storm’s knee in his back. In one of the few amusing bits of commentary all night, Tenay asks Taz about his time teaming with Raven. Taz: “What about Raven?” They also get into a discussion of how Taz is always commentating with guys named Mike.
Roode comes back in for a chinlock of his own but Davey easily fights up. We get one of the stupidest spots I’ve ever seen as Richards throws Roode to Storm, who catches Bobby in a front facelock for no apparent reason. Then Davey kicks Storm in the face, causing Storm to DDT Roode. Spots like that where they might as well draw you a picture that says “YEAH, WE PLANNED THIS BEFOREHAND” drive me crazy.
Davey finally makes the hot tag to Edwards who cleans house with chops in the corner. The reverse tornado DDT from Storm is countered into the over the shoulder Stunner for two. An enziguri into a German from Davey gets two on Storm with Roode making the save. Everything breaks down and Davey takes the Backstabber from James and a spinebuster from Bobby. Beer Money hits the double suplex and SHOUT THEIR NAMES. Edwards fights out of DWI though and Richards comes back in with a missile dropkick. Beer Money is sent to the floor for a double dive, followed by the top rope double stomp to Storm for the pin.
Rating: B. That’s probably a stretch. The match was good but it certainly wasn’t as great as you would expect from these teams. It made me think of the Hart Foundation vs. the Brainbusters back in 1989. It sounds amazing on paper but when you see it live it’s just a good but not really memorable match. Also it would have been a better choice to put Roode and Storm in the battle royal as they’re far more likely to win than either of the Wolves.
They shake hands post match.
Spud celebrates his win in the back and says he was the team captain. Ray comes in and Spud immediately shakes his hand and asks how the captain is doing. Ray: “YOUR HEAD WAS IN MY NUTS FOR HALF OF THE MATCH! IF YOU EVER DO THAT AGAIN…..I’LL GIVE YOU A BIG OLD KISS BECAUSE WE WON!” Ray kisses Spud on the cheek and gives him a huge hug.
Aries says he’s speechless.
Kazarian/Curry Man vs. Eric Young/Ethan Carter III
For those of you that don’t remember, Curry Man is a masked man in red and yellow with a plate of curry on his head, based on an ad for curry in India. He’s usually played by Christopher Daniels and I believe he is here as well, even though you can see some hair sticking out of the back of the mask. It’s a brawl to start with Young and Curry Man being left alone in the ring. Curry and Young hug each other before slugging it out. They hug again then trade about six standing switches before hugging a third time.
Kaz gets sick of it and suggests a mid match change: Young and Curry Man team against Kaz and Carter. Apparently it’s going to be allowed but Eric and Curry Man stay on the apron. Carter rolls up Kaz for two but Eric makes the save, despite that not even being his original partner. The referee makes them go back to the original partners and more confusion ensues.
Carter finally chokes Curry Man to take over and a slam gets two. Young comes in to save Curry Man and gets yelled at by Ethan. “YOU’RE MY PARTNER!” Eric: “I KNOW IT SUCKS!” A clothesline puts Curry Man down for two and we hit the chinlock. Back up and it’s a double clothesline to put both guys down. Tags bring in Eric and Kaz and we get a crisscross. Young takes over with a flying forearm and a belly to belly as everything breaks down. Carter and Curry Man fight to the floor as Young rolls up Kaz for the pin.
Rating: C-. Not really even a match but it was one of the more bearable Eric Young comedy affairs that I can remember seeing. At least this time the story made sense and it wasn’t the same annoying Young stuff over and over again. It’s also a nice take on the random pairings idea which makes this easier to sit through.
Carter lays out Eric postmatch.
The Wolves are more excited about beating Beer Money than going to the gauntlet.
Abyss/Samuel Shaw vs. Zema Ion/Jesse Godderz
Godderz poses for Shaw to start but Abyss tags himself in to scare Jesse to death. Ion comes in and shouts BOOM a lot, much to Abyss’ annoyances. A cross body has no effect whatsoever and Abyss slams him down with one arm. About twenty chops from Ion have about the same effect and Abyss runs him over with a clothesline.
Off to Shaw who the fans call creepy. Back to Jesse who elbows Shaw in the face but gets slammed down with ease. Abyss tags himself back in to a nice reaction and cleans house on Godderz. Samuel turns his back on Abyss but gets dragged back into the ring. Godderz and Ion take over with some double teaming and a jawbreaker staggers Shaw. He takes time to go stare at Christy though, allowing Ion to hit a flip dive for two.
Zema misses a middle rope moonsault and it’s back to Abyss for some house cleaning. Jesse actually stops him with a clothesline but Shaw is busy going after Christy. He gets her in the corner and the referee just lets this happen, only to have Abyss make the save. Christy bails so Shaw hammers on his partner. That goes as well as you would expect but the Bro Mans actually knock Abyss to the floor. Shaw grabs the standing choke on Godderz for the submission a few seconds later.
Rating: D+. Nothing much to see here but at least they didn’t go for a third comedy match out of six. Shaw and Christy have a limited shelf life and hopefully it’s done after the latest gimmick match between Shaw and Anderson. Jesse and Ion were just there to bounce off Abyss and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Ethan Carter III takes credit for the win. Spud and Magnus (on the phone) come up and say that Dixie is proud. Magnus implies that they should let him win the gauntlet but after he leaves, Carter suggests that he should win. Spud thinks he might be the winner.
Lei’D Tapa/Gail Kim/Alpha Female vs. Velvet Sky/Madison Rayne/ODB
Just a filler here in an elimination match. Tapa imitates Velvet’s entrance to a ton of booing but Velvet calms the people down by doing it again. Sky charges at Tapa but is lifted in the air for a choke. Off to Gail for a clothesline but she gets caught by Madison’s mat humper. Gail spanks Tapa for some reason and yells at her for not having her back. The announcers talk about having spotted dick at lunch today and the match just keeps going.
Alpha comes in for a slam and some forearms to Madison’s chest. She misses a bad looking splash though and it’s back to Velvet who finally knocks Alpha down. Madison and Gail fight to the floor as Velvet bulldogs Alpha down. Chris Sabin comes out to distract the referee though and gets in an argument with Velvet. Sky low bridges him to the floor, kicks Alpha in the head and hits In Yo Face for the elimination.
Gail rolls Velvet up for a fast pin but the referee is with Sabin and misses Madison spearing Gail down. Tapa runs Madison over for an easy pin and we’re down to Gail/Tapa vs. ODB. The numbers game quickly catch up to her but Gail wants to get the glory. Tapa gets tired of it and shoves Gail into a rollup to get us down to one on one. Gail nails Tapa and ODB hits the Bam for the final pin.
Rating: D. There was no reason at all for this to be elimination rules. There were a few too many things going on here but they still could have wrapped the whole thing up in a single fall. It also doesn’t help that all of these stories have already been wrapped up two months before this show aired.
Gauntlet Battle Royal
Basically it’s a Royal Rumble with two minute intervals and the winner getting $100,000. We start with Davey vs. Eddie because that’s how random draws work. Feeling out process to start until the start slugging it out with strikes. Davey gets the better of it with his kicks until Samuel Shaw is in at #3. The Wolves actually keep fighting until Shawn breaks it up and chokes Edwards in the corner.
Edwards comes back with some chops and the Wolves start double teaming. Davey sends Shaw into a running knee to the face but here’s Rockstar Spud at #4. His strategy: kick Shaw low and wrap himself around the ropes for dear life. The Wolves lock eyes onto Spud before splitting up and stomping on both Spud and Shaw. Spud tries to eliminate Shaw by himself as the Wolves just chuckle from the corner. Shaw comes back with a crotch claw and here’s Douglas Williams at #5.
Spud keeps switching ropes to hold onto as we get into the standard battle royal formula of people pairing off and brawling against the ropes without trying to eliminate each other. The Wolves drop Douglas with a double back elbow as Spud is running out of places to hide. Abyss is in at #6 as these times are very suspect. He clotheslines everyone in sight, which doesn’t include Spud who has disappeared. Abyss easily tosses out Edwards and Davey suffers the same fate about fifteen seconds later. There goes Williams and we’re down to Abyss and Shaw on their feet. There’s a Black Hole Slam to set up the elimination as Spud tries to sneak up on Abyss. The monster chokes him up against the ropes as Bully Ray is in at #7.
Spud tries to interfere again but gets thrown over. He hangs on and skins the cat though, only to fall down when trying a double clothesline. Ray and Abyss have the real fight with Abyss nailing the chokeslam. Ray is right back up though as Spud shakes the ropes like the Warrior. A cross body has no effect either but here’s Eric Young at #8 to distract from Spud’s ineptness.
Eric hammers away on everyone in sight but Ray fights back. The Bully scares Spud to the floor but under the bottom rope so everyone is still in. Ray yells at Spud for not helping him get rid of Eric and here’s Ethan Carter III at #9. Eric goes right for him but Spud gets in a few shots from behind to give Ethan control. Spud tries to jump Bully again and gets shouted down into the corner. The five guys in the ring don’t do much else until Bad Bones comes in at #10.
Bones slugs away at everyone in sight which fits his brawling style. Again this goes nowhere until Samoa Joe is in at #11. Much like everyone else, Joe hammers away on everyone in sight upon entering the ring. A nice suplex puts Carter down before Joe settles in on Bad Bones. That doesn’t last long as Joe easily backdrops Bones out and it’s off to Joe vs. Bully. Spud actually eliminates Bully on his own but Joe wacks Spud in the head to put him on the mat.
Magnus comes out to give us a final grouping of Magnus, Joe, Spud, Abyss, Carter and Young. Joe and Magnus immediately go at it with Joe getting the early advantage but getting low bridged out to the floor to get us down to five. Abyss gets gang eliminated but Spud charges at Young and flies over the ropes to the floor. Eric dropkicks both Carter and Magnus down as things speed up. He gets both of them up for something resembling a double Death Valley Driver but gets crotched on the top and punched out by Magnus. Carter uses the distraction to eliminate Magnus for the win.
Rating: D+. This was almost every battle royal that they’ve ever had on this series. At the end of the day there’s only so much you can do with a show like this as battle royals only have so many stories available. Spud was funny and him eliminating Ray put a good cap on their events, but this show exists in a vacuum so it’s not like this is going to mean anything long term.
Carter gets the money to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. This was one of the more entertaining One Night Onlys but it wasn’t great throughout. The Ray/Spud tag match was one of the most entertaining matches I’ve seen in years and the Beer Money vs. Wolves match was a very solid match in its own right. The one thing that sticks out to me more than anything though is how different this was from Impact.
Matches had time to play out, there were no swerves or heel authority figures dominating things, and no randomly thrown in gimmicks. It was VERY nice for a change and a good example of what TNA is capable of when they stop taking themselves so freaking seriously. Compare this to Sacrifice where a total of nothing happened and the show was horribly boring.
Also, the fact that this was $15 for the HD version is a big factor. For $15, this was a very solid way to spend two and a half hours watching wrestling, especially if you need a break from the WWE Network. The whole series of shows is far better than anything else you get from TNA and are actually worth checking out if you have nothing better to do.
British Invasion b. Gunner/Chris Sabin – Top rope elbow to Sabin
Samoa Joe/Bad Bones b. Robbie E./Christopher Daniels – Muscle Buster to Daniels
Rockstar Spud/Bully Ray b. Mr. Anderson/Austin Aries – Rollup to Aries
Wolves b. Beer Money – Top rope double stomp to Storm
Eric Young/Ethan Carter III b. Curry Man/Kazarian – Rollup to Kazarian
Abyss/Samuel Shaw b. Jesse Godderz/Zema Ion – Standing choke to Godderz
ODB/Velvet Sky/Madison Rayne b. Alpha Female/Gail Kim/Lei’D Tapa – Bam to Tapa
Ethan Carter III won a battle royal last eliminating Magnus
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